TODAY! West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day 2019, with North Highline participants

May 11th, 2019 at 1:48 am Posted in West Seattle, White Center news | No Comments »

Enjoy garage/yard/rummage sales? Today’s the 15th annual West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day, which we coordinate via our site West Seattle Blog, and everyone’s invited to come shop the hundreds of sales happening all over the peninsula. We have mapped them two ways – interactive/clickable/zoomable and downloadable/printable. Each sale has a number and is matched with a classified-ad-style description. Three are in fact in North Highline:

Sale 5: 11622 23rd Ave SW
Sale 120: 9810 28th Ave SW
Sale 278: 9810 26th Ave SW

Official sale hours are 9 am-3 pm, though some are starting earlier and some ending later. Happy shopping!

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Marijuana and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

May 9th, 2019 at 3:22 pm Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news | 4 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

A long-hot topic was discussed relatively calmly at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, held May 2nd at NH Fire District HQ.

MARIJUANA: Jim Chan and Warren Clauss from the county came to talk about the new report (which you can see here or embedded below).

New sub-area planner Jay Hill was in the audience as were planner David Goodman and external-relations manager David Dow – a White Center resident – from the Department of Local Services. The staffer who put together the report now works for the county council, which Chan said declined the request for his attendance.

To date, the council hasn’t taken any action on the report, Chan said. The report said that no further zone areas need to be added for marijuana activity. But it acknowledged the inequitable distribution of marijuana businesses and recommended a cap. The subarea plan for West Hill recommends an even lower cap – two. Existing businesses would be grandfathered, though.

However, NHUAC president Liz Giba wondered, isn’t it unlikely that any of the existing stores – six in unincorpoated NH -are going to close? Clauss acknowledged, that’s true, their sales are all doing well. He thinks more favorable conditions elsewhere might ultimately pull them away. Chan said the Legislature likely didn’t expect that some communities would ban marijuana, and that has led to some of the inequitable distribution. But wouldn’t limiting sales in this area add to the marginalization of disadvantaged communities who had been disproportionately prosecuted pre-legalization? asked Aaron Garcia from the White Center Community Development Association. Good question, said Chan. Garcia also wondered about marijuana businesses seeking to expand the types of merchandise they offer. There are strict limits, he was told.

The report addressed a variety of types of data, but some of the sample sizes were too small to “make accurate conclusions,” Clauss noted.

As for where the tax dollars go, there is an inequity but it’s a state issue, the county reps noted – the county only gets back $2 million. That is split fairly evenly between public health and public safety. Giba wondered if some of the money could be funneled back to “keeping things clean” – the streets, for example.

The marijuana businesses aren’t any more of a crime magnet than other types of businesses, KCSO Deputy Bill Kennamer noted when the talk turned to that issue. The report looks at those stats, added Clauss.

Would grandfathering allow for example one family member to pass to another? Chan didn’t know, but another rep present didn’t think so.

So the bottom line is that to change things would require putting pressure on state legislators? Yes, was the reply. But in terms of the county, watch for announcements of sub-area-plan meetings.

Want to see the report? If you can’t download it, you can request it from asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov

SIDE NOTE: Before the county reps left, an attendee brought up a loud party along 17th SW last weekend. Deputy Kennamer said noise complaints are becoming more common and he’s still figuring out how to address it.

CRIME UPDATE: The deputy had his own spotlight shortly thereafter. In crime trends – burglaries are down, auto thefts are up. “We’re getting a lot of cars stolen that are then used in crimes of violence.” One-third of the 100 Part I crimes – auto thefts. All the violent crimes have been solved quickly.

Do we know why the burglar who was shot and killed by a White Center resident chose that house? Kennamer said, no, but it’s worth noting that there’s a “problem house” on the other side of the street. They’re still not 100 percent certain about whether someone else was involved; that’s pending blood analysis.

Regarding marijuana businesses, as discussed earlier in the meeting, “none are any worse” – Nimbin’s had a few drive-through burglaries, Star had a shooting, but otherwise he said they were no more of a draw for crime than liquor stores.

A few other notes: One of the recent gunfire incidents in downtown WC had 45 rounds fired.

Got a nuisance house? Work with code enforcement.

One attendee pointed out that the businesses on the west side of 17th near 98th had suffered burglaries and theft. It might not have been reported to KCSO yet; Deputy Kennamer was asked to stop by and check on them.

Asked about emphasis patrols, he mentioned WC and Burien are having ongoing Thursday-Friday-Saturday overtime-funded patrols along the 16th/Ambaum corridor.

Despite the trouble spots, WC is far better than it was, say, 20 years ago, Kennamer reiterated.

WATER DISTRICT MERGER: Water District 45 is merging into WD 20 as a result of the recent election, commissioner Russ Pritchard reminded everyone. This means lower bills for District 45’s former customers. Involved are 10,415 service connections and 1,500 hydrants serving about 45,000 residents, he said. The old District 45 HQ will be sold; an appraiser just came out. So it’s not vacant pre-sale, the Highline Bears baseball team is temporarily headquartered there.

14th/120th has a “secret” underground reservoir, holding about 8 million gallons, he also noted, and now it’s part of District 20, which is headquartered at 1st S. and 126th.

HIGHLINE BEARS: GM Justin Moser spoke to NHUAC, opening by recalling baseball’s heyday in the community, and saying they want to bring “entertainment and fun” to the community. Ticket prices are no higher than $8. Opening night is June 1st, 7 pm, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott will throw out the first pitch. The team has 27 home games and will even have a “Christmas in July” night in which the players will wear ugly sweaters and throw out a first snowball instead of a first pitch. Their players, who come from college baseball, will be giving back to local communities via street cleanups and other volunteer activities.

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Rudy Garza spoke about the event coming up tonight (May 9th) – here’s the official invitation. Speakers will include Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta and State Senator Joe Nguyen.

LIBRARY UPDATE: KCLS’s Angie Benedetti said, “There’s nothing I like better than opening a meeeting with good news.” That news – Boulevard Park Library is reopening May 18th, with a 9:30 am ribbon-cutting ceremony. She shared the branch’s history going back more than three quarters of a century, when it was one room with a little over 500 books. She said it retains its classic architectural charms but has new rooms and a piece of art by Barbara Earl Thomas, glass walls telling the story “The Secret Reader.” Benedetti also shared some recent anecdotes including a “Box Drive-In” a week ago in which 100 little kids made cars out of boxes and got to watch a movie. NHUAC president Giba recalled that there was a time when the community was in danger of losing the library.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Wendell Davis noted that the White Center Warriors wrestling team, which meets at Chief Sealth IHS, has a world champion – 17-year-old Dustin Camacho. ….On May 24th, New Start High School Key Club wll have a car wash at the school, and at a TBA date in June, the Evergreen High School Key Club will have one too, said Aaron Garcia … 6/15, an Art Walk will coincide with the first-ever White Center Pride event.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets 7 pm first Thursdays most months at the NH Fire District HQ.

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WHITE CENTER FOOD: Biscuit Bitch on the way to ex-Brass Knuckle Bistro site

May 7th, 2019 at 11:59 am Posted in Restaurants, White Center news | 3 Comments »

(Also posted on partner site West Seattle Blog)

When Chef Case Justham announced the closure of Brass Knuckle Bistro (9602 16th SW) – as reported here last month – he added, “We’ve got a great buyer taking over, an iconic local spot that will be a perfect fit for the neighborhood, that I’m sure everyone will be extremely excited about.”

Post-closure, a handwritten note on the door named that “iconic local spot” as Biscuit Bitch, a sassy spot for breakfast/brunch, with three downtown locations – Pike Place, Pioneer Square, and Belltown. We’ve finally confirmed the White Center expansion plan, after reaching BB by phone today. No estimate yet for when they’ll open, yet. Never been to Biscuit Bitch? Here’s the menu.

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SUNDAY: Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee

May 4th, 2019 at 11:44 pm Posted in Myers Way, White Center news | No Comments »

Reminder: If you have comments, questions, or concerns about the Seattle-sanctioned encampment on Myers Way, Camp Second Chance, you’ll want to be at the Community Advisory Committee meeting Sunday, 2 pm at Arrowhead Gardens (9200 2nd SW, a few blocks north of C2C).

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1 WEEK AWAY: Learn about local successes in fighting youth substance abuse

May 1st, 2019 at 10:58 pm Posted in Health, White Center news | No Comments »

You’re invited to this big event in White Center one week from tonight:

(See the invitation in full-size PDF here.)

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council looks at marijuana, and more

April 29th, 2019 at 7:21 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | No Comments »

A new month is almost here and so is the announcement of what’s on the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda this Thursday:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Last month, Doug Baxter-Jenkins of CHI Franciscan/Highline Hospital shared important and disturbing information about the state of North Highline’s health. The data begs the question: Why?

This month’s NHUAC meeting will focus on where we’ve been and how we got here since the legalization of marijuana. In a 2013 neighborhood meeting, King County publicly presented its proposal to limit marijuana businesses in North Highline. However, that proposal never became reality. By July of 2016, there were 15 legal marijuana stores in unincorporated King County; 13 of them were in either North Highline or Skyway.

On July 25, 2016, the King County Council passed Ordinance 18326 which, according to King Council Members Joe McDermott and Larry Gossett, “would further concentrate retail marijuana stores in low-income and working-class neighborhoods and, more often than not, minority neighborhoods.” The King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (now Permitting) was tasked with preparing a report on the marijuana industry in unincorporated King County. After 2-1/2 years, the King County Marijuana Report is complete and filed with the council. To learn about and discuss the Marijuana Report, we will be joined by Jim Chan, Director of King County’s Permitting Division, Warren Clauss, Permitting’s expert on marijuana, and John Taylor, Director of King County’s Local Services Department. To read the King County Marijuana Report before our discussion, you can find it here.

Angelina Benedetti of the King County Library System, Commissioner Russ Pritchard of Water District 20, and our own Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us to share important happenings in North Highline. Then… the floor will be yours!

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share and help make North Highline a better place.

May 2, 2019 at 7 pm – Bring a Neighbor!

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FOLLOWUP: Success sprouts at White Center Library Guild plant sale

April 28th, 2019 at 10:44 pm Posted in Gardening, White Center Library, White Center news | 3 Comments »

Thanks to White Center Library Guild president Astha Tada for the report and member Gill Loring for the photos – here’s how the guild’s Plant Sale went this past Friday:

Thanks to the wonderful support and team effort of many individuals, the White Center Library will have money to support their programming efforts, especially targeting our youth. In 4 hours, $589 was earned selling outdoor and indoor plants, garden tools, garden books, and children’s books, etc. A number of community members gave a little extra to support our much-beloved library.

It was a fun time with lots of conversations as individuals came to peruse, buy and ask
plant questions. Some mystery plants we were not able to identify were sold to adventuresome buyers.

The White Center Library Guild hopes to continue this fun event next year. We are a small group of
dedicated individuals and can always use more members. Join us! Make a difference!

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TODAY: Cambodian New Year Street Festival in White Center

April 27th, 2019 at 2:25 am Posted in Fun, White Center news | Comments Off on TODAY: Cambodian New Year Street Festival in White Center

(WCN photos, added early afternoon)

ORIGINAL EARLY AM POST: First street festival of the season, 10:30 am-5 pm at 15th/98th, the annual Cambodian New Year Street Festival in White Center, presented by the Cambodian Cultural Alliance of Washington! Here’s the published schedule:

10:30 AM
Monk’s Blessings – The Beacon Hill temple, Kent temple,South Park temple and Tacoma Old Temple will lead blessings

11:00 AM
MCs: Samphy C. and Srey R., DJ Jenny C., Poem written by Robert M., Guest Speakers: Dagmar C., S. Park Senior, Sili S.

11:20 AM
Chhay-Yum Performed by the Kent Temple

11:30 AM
Robam Choun Por (Blessing Dance) by Khmer King County

11:40 AM
Teavy Propey (Flower of the Universe) by Khmer Language Arts Culture and Academy (KLACA)

11:45 AM
Robam Bopha Lokei (Flower of the World Dance) by Khmer King County

11:50 AM
Khmer Classical Musical Instruments by Rasmey Propey Niey Khmer from Tacoma

12:05 PM
Robam Neary Chea Chour (Girls in a Line Dance) by Khmer King County

12:10 PM
Robam Kous Angrae by Khmer Language Arts Culture and Academy (KLACA)

12:15 PM
Robam Kuos Trolok (Coconut Dance) by Khmer King County

12:25 PM
Cambodian Dessert Demonstration- Nom Plae Ai

12:45 PM
Robam Apsara by Cambodian Classical and Folk Dance of Tacoma

12:55 PM
Robam Oiy Sat Mohouri by Cambodian Classical and Folk Dance of Tacoma

1:00 PM
Chhay-Yum by Kent Temple

1:10 PM
Traditional Game: Banana Eating Contest

1:40 PM
Local Talent Show: Community talent and Special Guest: Davey Tsunami

2:10 PM
Children’s Game: Passing Ping-Pong Balls w/Spoons

2:30 PM
Traditional Game: Tresey (Hacky-sack)

3:00 PM
Live Band by Brother Band & OPEN DANCE FLOOR!!

4:55 PM
Closing Remarks by CCAW Member

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ROAD-WORK ALERT: Rescheduled 4th Avenue SW closure starts Monday

April 25th, 2019 at 4:53 pm Posted in Greenbridge, Traffic, Transportation, White Center news | Comments Off on ROAD-WORK ALERT: Rescheduled 4th Avenue SW closure starts Monday

The postponed 4th Avenue SW closure south of Roxbury, for work related to the King County Housing Authority, now has a new start date. From KCHA:

We have resolved the complex utility conflicts that delayed our road closure and are ready to proceed with the full road closure. We have received final road closure permission from King County Road Services Division, King County Department of Local Services. 4th Avenue SW will be totally closed from SW 100th Street to SW Roxbury Street starting Monday, April 29th. This closure will continue from April 29th to Monday June 3rd with the following work hours:

• Monday – Friday 7 AM to 5 PM

• Saturday – 9AM to 5PM

There will be additional brief road/lane closures following the initial closure to complete additional work.

We have coordinated with local residents, emergency services, schools, and area service providers.

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FRIDAY: White Center Library Guild Plant Sale

April 25th, 2019 at 4:10 pm Posted in Gardening, White Center Library, White Center news | Comments Off on FRIDAY: White Center Library Guild Plant Sale

Gardeners – happening tomorrow!

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North Highline FD commissioner Dominic Barrera running for Port of Seattle Commission

April 23rd, 2019 at 5:22 pm Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news | Comments Off on North Highline FD commissioner Dominic Barrera running for Port of Seattle Commission

North Highline Fire District commissioner Dominic Barrera, also a former NH Unincorporated Area Council board member, says he’s running for the countywide Port of Seattle Commission seat that Courtney Gregoire is leaving. Two other candidates have registered campaigns but he is the first to send an announcement:

South King County may soon have representation on the Seattle Port Commission again, as Fire Commissioner, airport union leader, and environmental advocate, Dominic Barrera announced his intention to run for the open position being vacated by Courtney Gregoire.

Barrera has served as an elected Fire Commissioner for the North Highline Fire District since 2015, where he represents about 10,000 constituents in the communities of White Center and Boulevard Park. There, he was the driving force behind station improvements that increased workplace safety, helped craft an innovative joint-operation plan with a neighboring district to improve service and increase efficiency, and has twice amended and passed state legislation to protect low-income tax payers in his district.

“I’ve worked to balance budgets and restore the District’s economic stability without compromising the well-being of our employees or the communities we serve,” Barrera said. “I bring unparalleled experience, not only leading a public agency, but also working on the frontlines of a major Port facility, fighting for worker protections, and advocating for our environment. The Port of Seattle needs this kind of strong, well-balanced leadership in this critical time of growth.”

Barrera’s father, born in Tokyo to Mexican and Japanese parents, was an aircraft mechanic at Sea-Tac. Barrera himself has worked for Alaska Airlines for seven years, both in airport operations and accounting. Throughout his tenure, he has been a proud member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 2202 and currently serves as a union shop steward to his peers at Sea-Tac.

Barrera was part of a successful grassroots campaign in 2015 to save the Myers Parcels, an environmentally critical wetland that feeds into the Duwamish River, from industrial development. He was later selected to lead PlantAmnesty, an environmental nonprofit that works to protect Seattle’s greenspace, as their Executive Director.

He and his fiancé, Andrea, live in the Highline-area, directly under Sea-Tac’s northern flight path and within earshot of seaport operations.

“I would bring a voice for people living in the areas most impacted by Port activities,” Barrera said. “I know firsthand how crucial it is for the Port of Seattle to be a good neighbor.”

The other two candidates who have registered Position 2 campaigns with the Public Disclosure Commission so far are Ali Scego and Preeti Shridhar, but we haven’t yet received an announcement from either. Position 5 is also up for election this year; so far incumbent Fred Felleman is the only registered candidate. The formal filing period is in mid-May; the primary election is August 6th.

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More drive-by gunfire on 16th SW in White Center

April 22nd, 2019 at 8:12 pm Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | 3 Comments »

Deputies are investigating drive-by gunfire for the second time in 3 days on 16th SW in White Center. This time, it happened closer to SW 100th; investigators are parked further north in our photo because they were checking cameras on businesses further north, as the vehicle from which the shots were fired – believed to be a “black car” – was northbound. No injuries reported, and no damage found as of when we talked to investigators, who said they had no indication whether it was or was not related to the gunfire on Saturday.

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UPDATE: Deadly shooting in White Center

April 22nd, 2019 at 11:18 am Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | 4 Comments »

11:18 AM: We’re awaiting a King County Sheriff’s Office news release about the deadly shooting widely covered by regional media very early this morning. Early information indicated that a man woke up before 3 am in the 9800 block of 13th Avenue SW and discovered an intruder; he shot and killed the persoo. Deputies used a K9 team to search for another possible suspect but didn’t find anyone. We’ll add the KCSO news release once it’s in.

3:57 PM: The news release from KCSO has just arrived:

Early this morning, 04/22/2019 about 2:40 AM near the 9800 block of 13th Ave. SW, White Center, a homeowner who was home alone woke to the sound of a sound of a window shattering in the kitchen area of his house and a short time later footsteps inside his house. The 35 year old homeowner immediately called 911 and armed himself with a handgun. The homeowner hid in his closet while waiting for Deputies to arrive. Prior to Deputies arriving on-scene, the 29 year old suspect opened the bedroom door and was shot by the homeowner. The suspect died at the scene. There may have been a second suspect, but so far the investigation has not uncovered any evidence of the second suspect.

King County Major Crimes Detectives continue to investigate.

ADDED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The man who was killed is identified as Joseph Anderson, cause of death described as “multiple gunshot wounds.”

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From April’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting: What you need to know about local health

April 21st, 2019 at 3:41 pm Posted in Health, North Highline UAC, White Center news | 2 Comments »

We weren’t able to cover this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting but NHUAC has shared with us, so we can share with you, a slide deck with some important but troubling information:

(You can also see it here in PDF.) You can read more about the CHNA process at the CHI Franciscan website.

P.S. NHUAC has a new website – same address – where there’s a link to video of part of April’s meeting. The next meeting will be first Thursday in May – May 2nd – 7 pm at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Downtown gunfire

April 20th, 2019 at 3:12 pm Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | 9 Comments »

(WCN photos)

3:12 PM: Thanks for the tips about gunfire in downtown White Center along 16th SW south of SW 98th. We went over to check and found deputies investigating what they said was bullet damage to that vehicle. No injuries reported. The gunfire is reported to have come from another vehicle but they didn’t have a description to share, so we have a followup inquiry out seeking more info when available.

3:27 PM: KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott says “multiple” casings were found and that what happened here was a case of “two vehicles fired at each other, missing. A minivan traveling northbound unrelated was hit; thankfully none of the occupants were hit or injured.”

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SATURDAY: Ride for Major Taylor will start/finish in White Center

April 19th, 2019 at 3:05 pm Posted in How to Help, White Center news | Comments Off on SATURDAY: Ride for Major Taylor will start/finish in White Center

The White Center Bicycle Playground is the start and finish tomorrow for the annual Ride for Major Taylor benefit bike ride. From Cascade Bicycle Club:

The riding event is the biggest annual fundraiser designed specifically to benefit the Major Taylor Project, an after school youth development program for middle and high school students in Seattle and Tacoma. The program is designed to introduce youth from diverse communities to the recreation of cycling while fostering an inclusive culture of bicycling.

More than 300 riders are expected, with the route including White Center, Burien, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Vashon Island, starting around 8 am. Find out more here.

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WHITE CENTER FOOD: Brass Knuckle Bistro closing

April 17th, 2019 at 11:00 pm Posted in Restaurants, White Center news | 7 Comments »

After a year in downtown White Center, Brass Knuckle Bistro (9602 16th SW) is closing. Proprietor Case Justham announced it tonight:

In short, we’re closing at the end of the month, with our last day being Saturday April 27th. I apologize for the shocking speed, the deal we ended up making (more on that shortly) required both a quick close and a few contingencies that needed to be satisfied, which left us with a very short window between announcing the closure and turning over the keys. We’ll be open our normal hours until the 27th, and updating our menu as we sell out of things (I have enough inventory to keep most of the vegan menu till the end, and we’ll continue to prep fried and smoked chicken, while allowing things like ham and pastrami to sell out).

Closing was not an easy decision, business had been good and getting better, and we’ve had a great time in White Center making delicious food, meeting friendly people, and being part of a fabulous community, but between the fact that I like cooking a whole lot more than I like managing, and some very sudden change in my personal circumstances (I’m going to have to move, twice, ugh), it feels like the best choice.

Now, the sweet:

We’ve got a great buyer taking over, an iconic local spot that will be a perfect fit for the neighborhood, that I’m sure everyone will be extremely excited about. I’ll let them introduce themselves with their own announcement, but it’s not a secret if you come in and ask!

Also in the sweet column, I’m far from done with the local food scene, and have retained the rights to Brass Knuckle Bistro and all the associated recipes and such, so your favorites aren’t gone for good, though I can’t currently say what form they may reappear in (I’m leaning towards pop-ups and small events where I can focus on the cooking and not the managing). I’ll be retooling the website and Facebook page with updates on that, so please continue to check in and see what I’m up to.

I also realized that I have 50+ pages of recipes that I developed for the shop, many of them completely original, not including all the variations and employee meal creations that never quite made it to the menu, so I’m putting together a little cookbook that should be available on Amazon sometime in the next few months. Yes, it will include my vegan mushroom bacon recipe! Again, I’ll be updating the website and social media as that develops, so stay tuned.

Finally, I just wanted to say that for all the difficulties that this restaurant odyssey has entailed, it’s also been a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it, and I appreciate every single person who’s come in and enjoyed my food (with the exception of the guy who two starred me on Yelp on opening weekend, screw that guy), and thank you to the entire White Center community, who’ve been nothing but supportive. Onward and upward!

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HAVE YOU SEEN THEM? 2 lost/stolen dogs

April 16th, 2019 at 9:35 pm Posted in Pets, White Center news | Comments Off on HAVE YOU SEEN THEM? 2 lost/stolen dogs

From the inbox:

We are missing out 2 female dogs since 4/13/19.

Last seen White Center/Top Hat area off of 3rd Ave SW and SW 102nd St. and possibly 1 Ave S.

They are both Microchipped and registered with Home Again. They both had their collars with Tags and Harnesses on. They were in a secure fenced yard but the area is unfamiliar to the Dogs as Burien is home for them. We are asking for help to try and find our family dogs. Please call or text 425-361-9295

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Crime, safety, community: Downtown discussion in White Center

April 14th, 2019 at 5:18 pm Posted in Crime, Safety, White Center news | 2 Comments »

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for White Center Now

“It’s so much better than it’s ever been.” “Know your neighbors, know your neighborhood, talk to each other.” “If you do see something suspicious, call 911, don’t wait.”

Those were some of the recurring messages on Thursday night from police and neighbors alike regarding criminal activity in White Center, as business owners and residents gathered to hear from representatives from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The community-organized forum, held at the RJB Photo Studio in downtown White Center, featured guest speaker and storefront deputy Bill Kennamer, who has been in that role for 4 years and has worked in the precinct for 21 years. “I love White Center,” Kennamer said, adding that there certainly are challenges in the area, but a close working relationship with the community is essential to keeping neighbors safe.

Kennamer said there is a general perception that White Center is dangerous, and that things are getting worse. “We’re in ‘Rat City,’ right?” he joked, drawing simultaneous laughs, groans and “yep’s” from neighbors in attendance. “It used to be crazy here, it’s true, but the crime numbers across the broad are down,” Kennamer said, with the exception of some events in the month of March that drew regional attention (see our recent coverage in the Crime section on White Center Now)

Kennamer said that, in his opinion, social media is a factor: “People share a story about a single crime that happened, it gets shared over and over, and looks like more that it is. If there is a story about a murder and it gets shared 4 times, there are people who think it’s 4 different murders in a week.” That said, Kennamer acknowledged that there was a spike in recent weeks with several acts of violence, but noted that “100% of them have been solved.” He shared a handout showing KCSO dispatch statistics for the past two years:

(Both charts created by J. Hobbs, Centralized Crime Analyst, April 2019)

Year over year, most categories of crime statistics in the area are steady or down, with some exceptions — “We got crushed last month with auto thefts,” Kennamer said, noting that auto theft recoveries were also up but that can be largely attributed to “cars stolen elsewhere and dumped here.”

Kennamer and neighbors in attendance agreed that there is always a small increase in the summer months “when the weather is nice” and “school is out, people are outside and some are causing trouble.” But Kennamer stressed that from his perspective, as someone who has “worked the streets of White Center for 21 years,” it’s no longer the “wild wild west that it used to be,” in large part because of neighborhood and business revitalization and community involvement. White Center has grown significantly, Kennamer noted, and “with an increase in population you’d think that crime would be going up, but overall it’s not, it’s going down.”

With regard to population and police coverage, Kennamer said there are roughly 15,000-17,000 people who live in the area (compared to 52,000 in Burien, for example) and that KCSO divides the area into three parts:

  • K1: North Highline, from 116th to Roxbury and from 30th to 509
  • K11: King County Housing Authority, including Seola Gardens and Greenbridge
  • K7: Everything in unincorporated King County east of 509, including much of South Park and Boulevard Park to the river

Staffing numbers are an issue and always have been, Kennamer said, noting that there are typically 2 deputies on duty at a time, which becomes an issue in situations when officers need to respond to criminal activity and bring people to jail, which means that “there are no cops in White Center” during those times. This was echoed by KCSO Sergeant Kelly Park, also in attendance (pictured below), who noted that longtime deputy Jeff Hancock was promoted to detective just last week, and will have some additional resources to work with. Kennamer added that Hancock will have an office in Greenbridge, and has an unmatched depth of knowledge of the area (“he remembers everyone’s name, places, dates of birth, you name it”).

A question from the crowd: “Who determines staffing, and how do we help you get more?” Kennamer and Park explained that KCSO staffing is determined as part of the King County budget process, and that council member Joe McDermott is the person that residents could talk to that would have the most influence. “But the staffing levels haven’t changed in my 21 years,” Kennamer said, and getting extra funding is tough. He added that his own duties focus on “quality of life” crimes and issues, and he usually works 9-5, 40hrs per week, but at any time of day (including at night, when the potential for trouble is higher), “we still have only two cops.”  In response to a follow-up question about funding levels in White Center compared to other areas, Park responded that funding levels are higher in Seattle because it’s a municipality. In areas like Burien and SeaTac, there are contracts that determine funding levels. For White Center, the budget is determined by the King County Council.

Raw notes from the meeting Q&A are below:

  • Q from an attendee: This turnout tonight is amazing, how do we keep the momentum going and keep everyone engaged in our community? Kennamer: The only real positive changes I’ve seen over the years is when these community voices get together.  Great organizations like North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) do a great job of getting government leaders here to speak with neighbors. A plug from NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin: We’ve worked hard to keep the storefront deputy position (Kennamer’s job) over the years, have testified in front of King County Council many times. Our meetings are the first Thursday of each month (next is May 2 at 7pm at the North Highline Fire Station with guest speaker John Taylor from King County Local Services to talk about code enforcement and permitting). We get great support from White Center Now and West Seattle Blog and coverage of our meetings… We’re always part of Jubilee Days (in July).  A plug for King County Local Services from communications manager Jerry Pionk and community liaison Bong Sto. Domingo, both of whom encourage residents to send email to asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov with questions or concerns. Kennamer echoed that the partnership between his office and Local Services has always been extremely strong, and added “look at this crowd here tonight — if you get leaders to gatherings like this and put their feet their flame, things will change.” He also added that John Taylor is a great resource but has “a huge list” of priorities, so it’s up to citizens to help determine priorities.  Another attendee suggested contacting Sen. Joe Nguyen, the recently elected state senator from the 34th district (who will be at NHUAC’s June meeting). Tommy Martin from the White Center Chamber of Commerce also put in a plug for the work that the Chamber does. Another attendee asked: what’s the best way to get Dow Constantine (King County Executive) involved with these issues? Attendees noted that sending emails to his office tends to be effective, as he is typically very engaged with the community. Another attendee said that the work of the White Center Community Development Association (CDA) and community engagement manager Aaron Garcia has been “amazing.” Attendees also collected names and email addresses at the meeting, for future networking.

  • Q from an attendee: My husband has lived in White Center for 40 years, we used to have break-ins all the time, but over the years it’s become much better. However, we now have a neighbor (a lady in her late 60s who used to be very nice but has struggled with drugs) who is constantly coming onto property and breaking into cars. We’ve called the police so many times, they confront her but the punishment is always just a slap on the wrist. It is costing me money to fight this, I love my neighborhood, but what more can I do?  A from Kennamer: Clearly you are a victim, but this is a tough situation. The crimes you are describing are “low-level quality of life” crimes. Prosecuting drug issues is difficult — for example, for heroin possession, anything under 1 gram there’s not much we can, for 1-3 grams that’s misdemeanor court. Trespassing crimes tend to be dismissed immediately. We can’t force people into treatment. A lot of people have watched the Seattle Is Dying program and have opinions. These problems are difficult to fix, “way above my pay grade,” but I agree that something has to change.  Follow-up Q from the same person: I know that these issues are going on with her, I have documented everything and kept case numbers. If I go there myself and talk to the prosecuting attorney, is that enough, if I can prove that they’re dealing drugs?  A: You can phone in a narcotics activity report that goes to a narcotics officer. The attendee and Kennamer agreed to talk after the meeting and exchange information.
  • Comment from attendee Malika Lamont, project manager for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion: We will be working more in White Center soon, looking for an office, we work with public defenders. Our staff can work with low-level offenders with behavioral health issues, but we can’t put our staff in harm’s way. We’ve worked on funding with Dow Constantine. Need to launch in Burien first, then in White Center in about 6 months, have to train officers and get case management staff, it’s a very involved process, the goal is “ongoing wrap-around support.”
  • Q from a business neighbor: How can we address the biggest problem I see, which is with kids loitering right in front of my business? Are there youth programs we can utilize?  A from Kennamer: Resources are being spent on that issue, you will hopefully see a difference.
  • Q from another attendee: What can we as a community do to help? Last week on my street we had cars broken into and mailboxes broken and things all over the street, and we haven’t even hit summer yet. A from Kennamer: It’s challenging with only 2 people on staff, but we do what we can. I live in Renton, and we see issues there too (the “low-level quality of life” crimes).
  • Comment from an attendee: To those newer people who just moved here, keep your chin up, this is a great neighborhood. My first experience here was working at Company in 2011, I had friends from other parts of Seattle tell me that White Center was a “ghetto” and I told them they were crazy and must have never traveled anywhere else.  This is a fantastic vibrant community, and the presence of the crowd in this room tonight represents that.  With regard to engaging with political leaders, you can certainly email or call them, but in my experience, face-to-face communication is the most powerful and nothing is better than sitting down with them, that’s the way policy and politics works.  We as a group can find out where and when the meetings are, bring 10 people to comment and say “you need more officers in White Center” and just do it and say it over and over again. We definitely should all stay connected, share email addresses, use Facebook.
  • Comment from an attendee: I was part of an activity group that did exactly what the previous person said, we went to all kinds of meetings and commented. King County meets on Monday afternoons, public comments are allowed at some meetings and are allotted 2 minutes per citizen to talk about relevant issues.  In my experience, you may do it once and nothing happens, but it’s the beginning of something. It’s a matter of taking a bus downtown, going outside of your comfort zone, being as forceful as possible but using the process. There are a lot of good things going on but the issue is a lack of coordination. The bottom line is that it’s no one else’s job to clean up our community than our own.
  • Q: It seems like there are lots of drugs on the street, what’s being done about that, it seems logical that if we take away the drugs then there won’t be drug users. A from Kennamer: There are still problems but it has decreased; before Sudafed was made illegal about 10 years ago, we were cleaning up 300 meth labs per year, that has gone down significantly because meth isn’t economically easy to make now. Experts say many of the drugs are coming from Mexico. Comment for another attendee: Often the drug use is linked to homelessness but that’s not accurate, it doesn’t matter who is using it, but has the sheriff’s office done anything about heroin coming in? A from Sergeant Park: Precinct 4 has a special emphasis team that works on this, and works with ATF. But as mentioned earlier, we don’t prosecute you for less than 3 grams of heroin, so to be effective we have to go to the bigger dealers, the problem is you take one down and another one moves in to take the business. Follow-up Q: If drugs are a problem, how much drug work can actually be done with just two officers on staff at a time?  A from Kennamer: Very little proactive police work goes on, to be frank.
  • Q: It seems like there is gang activity in White Center, right, especially on Ambaum corridor?  A from Kennamer: We watch for gangs, but it’s not a big problem. We will start a Thu/Fri/Sat emphasis to work on violent activities (not gangs) in that area of 16th Ave and Ambaum corridor.  As far as we know there aren’t any Latino gangs with “clubhouses” in White Center, but we know there is one in South Park and a couple in Burien, and guess who is in the middle of that? A lot of the violence we saw last month (in my opinion) wasn’t targeted, it was a crime of opportunity. Graffiti is blowing up as a problem, though, we find that if we cover it up quickly then they’ll go somewhere else because they want the graffiti to be seen, so we didn’t solve the problem we just displaced it, but we do what we can. Follow-up Q: But based on graffiti and signs that I’ve seen, it does seem like there are pretty big-time gangs here, like the ones affiliated with El Chapo. A from Kennamer: No, we don’t see that, we certainly have in the past like in the late 1990s with some serious Asian gangs, but we’re not aware of any gang clubhouses in WC.  Follow-up comment: I encourage us to share info with each other, come together with neighborhood watches, use our great resources like the CDA and chamber, and share contact info so we can communicate when we see graffiti and other issues. Kennamer: I saw this happening in a good way just last week, a neighbor was painting over graffiti, it’s a great thing to do to keep the neighborhood safer and it looks better.
  • Comment/Q: I also watched the “Seattle Is Dying” show, it said Seattle doesn’t have a homeless problem, it has a drug problem.  I was an addict in the late 1980s, back then you could get any drug you wanted, and now you still can, drugs always been here. But lots of things have changed to make the situation work: the economy is hostile to working people, hard to make ends meet, social safety net is not working, we pay half income for a tiny apartment. So I just want to say let’s look at big picture, if someone gets in bad spot, life happens, you can fall farther faster now than ever before. Response from Kennamer: I hear what you’re saying, but something I truly believe that I say to homeless people we encounter, is that in the history of world, there has never been a place easier to get help and services than in Seattle in 2019. I’m not saying it’s as easy as many people think it is, there are no barrels of money, you have to go get it. I’m not sure how to fix the problem, if anyone really knew how to fix it, it would be fixed.  But there are services available. I can get a homeless individual into a bed today, before it gets dark, but not everything is easy.
  • Q: You said the crime rate is consistent, but sometimes there are spikes, what causes spikes?  A from Kennamer: Sometimes we don’t know, but we always get busier at summer and Christmas. I can’t stress enough how much it helps to know your neighbors, if you think something weird is happening, call 911 right away, we can’t catch everyone but we try. But the community can help us; if I’m driving around I don’t know that the yellow jalopy parked on the side doesn’t belong there, but you and your neighbors do.  Know your neighbors and know your neighborhood.
  • Q: Recently all of the mailboxes in our area were broken into, I tried to call about it but was bounced around, after about 20 minutes I gave up and ultimately didn’t report that all of the mailboxes in a 3-block area were broken into, I think you’d get more reports if the system were better.  A from Sergeant Park: That’s great feedback and I’ll take it back to the team. However, please know that in cases like that, it’s still OK to call 911, we’d rather you did that than didn’t call at all. You can call the non-emergency hotline, but regular 911 is OK too.  Kennamer: it’s usually the same people picking up the phone, so yes, just call.
  • Q: Bartell Drugs has been in the news with several problems there, I was in there recently and saw two people looting and shoving, I talked to the staff and they said they had been told by corporate not to do anything. There is a security guard in there now, which is so much better, for a long time it seems like the employees felt scared, but they’ve told me that they want us to call corporate and make suggestions. A from Kennamer: Bartells has always been a good partner with us, being diligent, covering graffiti, and yes we should do whatever we can to help them.
  • Q: My sister has been an officer in Mercer Island for years, did DARE, now does disaster relief drills, do we do that in White Center?  A: Yes, King County emergency preparedness. Comment from an attendee:  I work with response groups that coordinate with the WA National Guard, working with Seattle emergency teams.  There are lots of ways to get involved.  For example, the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club meets once per month.
  • Comment: All of these different community groups with websites and Facebook pages and Instagram pages should all link to each other, so it’s easier to find information and it’s all connected.
  • Comment: We should all do our part to clean up trash in the neighborhood. If things are cleaner, it just makes everything better, let’s take some pride and do it.
  • Q: During the February snowstorms we had a car prowler, our neighbor held the person, was recognizable to us, but my neighbor didn’t want to press charges, even though it was a repeat offender. Is there a threshold and what can I do in that situation? A from Kennamer: We have to have a victim in order to do anything, if there is no victim then there is no crime. Follow-up: How do you convince someone to press charges, to educate them and say “you let that lady go, now she went down the street and broke into someone else’s window?” Kennamer: Yes, just keep trying to explain it to people, they need to press charges. That’s why I book people for shoplifting, because if I don’t they’ll just do it again.
  • Comment: It seems like the solutions to a lot of these problems are community involvement and coordination, and I agree with that. I live by Holy Family, it’s a dead-end street, nobody passes through, everyone on that street is visible. We can be involved with neighbors, often we can’t get a deputy out here but we can engage with the suspicious person (“we see you!”), call a friend and, as long as you feel safe doing it, go out and just look at the person and they’ll often move along.  Kennamer: Totally agree. If you make it uncomfortable for them, you will often solve your problem.
  • Q: Can we get an organizing template for a blockwatch? A from Barbara from NHUAC: Yes we’ve had meetings about that. There is another blockwatch meeting coming up for White Center, April 23rd at 7 pm at the White Center Library.
  • Q: Aside from lobbying for more officers, what can we do to make a difference? Another question: what about the work crews that used to pick up garbage? Comment: send email to asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov and it will get to the right people to help with work crews. Kennamer: It would definitely be great to have more resources, even just 3 officers on duty instead of 2, otherwise if there are in-progress act of violence then we have no resources left. Aside from helping us with that, pick up trash and keep businesses clean, know your neighbors.
  • Q: When is appropriate time to call cops? I feel like I hear conflicting information — if I  see sketchy people in my alley, but I can’t see anything illegal, should I confront them?  A from Kennamer: My recommendation is always to call 911 for suspicious activity, if you don’t call then there is no chance they’ll come. Follow-up: I can tell them to get out of my alley and they’ll tell me to “f off,” I want to take care of it myself but I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy. Sergeant Park: We don’t want you to put yourself in jeopardy either, call us and describe what you see and give as much info as you can, if your intuition says it’s weird, then call 911.  Kennamer: I consistently say that if you’re thinking “should I call the cops,” that means you should do it, let dispatch do their job. Follow-up comment: I went to multiple meetings recently and there seem to be mixed messages about when to call, and how to use things like the Find It Fix It app (per another attendee, Find It Fix It doesn’t work in White Center anyway, it’s only Seattle).  Sergeant Park: Text-to-911 is coming to our area this summer (working on both emergency and non-emergency). Kennamer: the King County Abandoned Vehicle Hotline is a good resource. One attendee asked about an old car covered in mold at 107th and 17th, and Kennamer noted that “I will tag it tomorrow, and Monday it goes to car jail!”
  • Q: Following up on the earlier question about gang activity tags, I’ve also seen some x’d out, and am wondering if it’s related to some of the recent violence here. The tags appear to be for some pretty serious gangs … A from Kennamer: The Latino gang violence has been responsible for several homicides, probably not targeted, and not sophisticated enough to track people, but crossing tags out is big deal in that culture. Audience comment: Be sure if you paint over graffiti that you cover it completely, because if a gang symbol is just crossed out, that can cause major problems because it’s seen as a sign of disrespect and there may be retaliation. Kennamer: There is now funding for a sergeant and a detective for a gang unit, these will be good positions, there are 700 of us and a lot of us will apply for that job.
  • As the meeting ended, one attendee talked to the officers about a “blue house on 20th” that Kennamer confirmed is a trouble spot well-known to police, which has involved removing a camper. Kennamer noted that the Citizens Justice Project has been a good resource, really shortens the process (3 mo instead of 7 mo). We can’t impound a camper because it’s not a vehicle, has to be picked up.

Upcoming events:

  • Tuesday April 23, at 7 pm: Neighborhood Blockwatch meeting at the White Center Library
  • Thursday May 2, at 7 pm: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) monthly meeting at the North Highline Fire Station, 1243 SW 112th St, in White Center.
  • Thursday June 6, at 7 pm: NHUAC monthly meeting at the Fire Station (no NHUAC meetings in July and August)
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THURSDAY: Talk about crime and safety with your neighbors

April 10th, 2019 at 11:00 pm Posted in Crime, Safety, White Center news | 2 Comments »

A White Center entrepreneur has organized this meeting for Thursday night, and you’re invited:

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